Seize Each Moment for Biblical Integration – Especially at Christmas
Helen and I are celebrating Christmas this year in a new and unusual way. Our children are grown and married, and we are enjoying special times with our three grandchildren when we are not quarantining. That is right, COVID-19 has thrown another wrinkle in our traditional plans. However, it is not the virus that is stimulating change for our family, but rather our new place in life without children at home. Now that our kids are making traditions for their families, we are changing some traditions – changes we should have made decades ago!
Our change began with Helen’s initiative to begin passing Christmas tree ornaments on to our kids and their kids – she decided they should enjoy those ornaments, not us! There she was with a barren tree! But if you have had the opportunity to meet Helen, you know that the tree would not remain barren for long. If fact, she began a new quest to reconsider the “true meaning of Christmas” once again. In doing so, we are adopting new Christmas traditions that we pray will impact our spiritual lives and those of the next generation.
You see, Helen was motivated to find scriptural support for the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in His incarnation and further documented in the New Testament. Not only did she find 54 of them, she began making ornaments with an image related to the each prophecy and fulfillment. While I would have been fine with these decorations, I was struck with the idea that we could become more informed about our faith in the process.
Helen quickly agreed to the concept of an “Advent Tree.” If you are familiar with the Advent Wreath or Calendar tradition, these ornaments have provided us with a new opportunity to spend special time together at each meal as we ponder each new ornament that we place upon the tree at a pace of three per day. We take the new ornament, consider the title, prophecy, and fulfillment, then pray about what we’ve learned. Additionally, we are attempting to abbreviate the concept of each one of the prophecies that we might remember them. This is proving to be one of the most challenging things to do, especially with sixty something brains. Currently we have memorized these 15 words: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David, virgin, Bethlehem, Egypt, sinless, servant, sacrifice, righteousness, redemption, parables, deaf-ears. As you might guess, we are being exposed to the “reason for the season” in an incredible way.
Two of the words have given us serious pause in seeking further understanding. If you were to try this with your children, it seems to me you would find many teachable moments, for yourself and your children! One challenging word was “Egypt.” Strangely, the Messiah was to come “out of Egypt.” Folks living at that time may have been looking for an Egyptian as the savior; however, God’s plan had Joseph move Jesus to a place, Egypt, where He would be protected from Herod’s plot to kill the baby boys who might threaten his reign. Also “righteousness” is not to be seen as ‘us’ becoming acceptable to God, but actually Christ coming to rule in our lives such that we might be His righteousness before God.
My final thought is this: allow the Spirit of Christ to prevail in your thoughts, indeed your celebration of Christmas, this season and always. Sharing these moments with your children will yield the Fruit of the Spirit. Merry Christmas!